Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Video Rewind

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Video Rewind

Article excerpt

Here's how Post-Dispatch critics reviewed recent video releases when they appeared on the big screen: "A Little Princess" Rating: G. Running time: 1:30.

MIX one contemporary Mexican film director with a story written by one long-dead British author and the sum is an enchanting movie with all the right ingredients - energy, humor and sensitivity - in all the right amounts.

Director Alfonso Cuaron has injected magic into an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel "Sara Crewe," written in the late 1880s. The story was the basis for a silent film in 1917 and for the Shirley Temple classic in 1939.

Cuaron's magic is not the traditional kind. It is the out-of-this-world mrealism most closely associated with Colombian-born author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in which dreams come true and little girls live lives of fantasy. Sara Crewe's (Liesel Matthews) early life is pure fantasy. It is 1914 and she lives in India as the only child of her widowed father, a captain in the British Army (Liam Cunningham). Sara is cared for by a loving Indian nanny whose child is Sara's friend. She is adored by her father and lives in splendor amid exotic surroundings.

But her father is called to fight in World War I. He decides Sara will go to the same exclusive boarding school in New York that her mother attended. The schoolmistress, Miss Minchin (Eleanor Bron), treats Sara like the princess her father tells her she is, as long as Sara's money holds out.

But when Sara's fortunes are reversed, Miss Minchin relegates her to the attic along with the black maid, Becky (Vanessa Lee Chester). Sara, who is as kind as she is beautiful, already has made friends with Becky.

The film is exquisite to look at, with cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki ("Like Water for Chocolate"). The opening sequence focusing on the huge head of an Indian deity where children play and tell stories is beautifully staged with colorful and fanciful objects.

The scene gently leads viewers into Sara's - and the movie's - world of heightened reality. It's a wonderful place to visit. Deborah Peterson "Jefferson In Paris" Rating: PG-13. …

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